I think it’s about time I wrote about food again. But first, Happy May Day or May Fools Day!
Now, one of my blogger buddies, renaissance woman Petrea, wrote about her experience at Zeli Coffee Bar, located at Vroman’s on Colorado boulevard, in her endless quest for the best coffeehouse in Pasadena a few years back. Btw, if you find yourself around Zeli, drop-in to Vroman’s to check out her new book – Camelot and Vine – in the local authors section.
I don’t recall when Zeli’s opened here but I believe the first time I visited was about a dozen years ago. In the intervening years I’ve visited a couple dozen times. It’s mainly a coffeehouse with a few pastries and premade/prewrapped sandwiches. Most of my scarce dollars have been placed on their coffee.
Notwithstanding the above, I’m here to talk about their plain & pain au chocolat croissants! Despite 1st coming here many years ago it was only this year I tried their croissants. We have some of the best ones here at Pasadena’s Euro Pane Bakery & Cafe, so it’s only natural to compare others with those.
In my opinion, a very good fresh croissant, out of the oven or reheated the same day, should be light, feel almost as light, flaky, buttery, a soft crunchy shell on the outside & buttery soft flaky layers and a touch moist inside, and of course, taste fresh. And with the chocolate variety, the chocolate should taste rich, real, and not be solid. On its best days the croissants from Euro Pane are all the above. They sell them for only $2.35 & $2.75, respectively.
But this is about Zeli croissants. Actually, Zeli is not a bakery so they’re selling them for whoever does bake them. Zeli sells their plain for $3 & the chocolate is $3.50.
Above is a Pain au Chocolat, or as unsophisticated dogs like me simply call it – chocolate croissant. It certainly looks handsome and nice as probably any croissant. From the outside.
This didn’t taste as if it were baked the same day. Despite asking for it to be reheated. It was heavy, thick, bready, and the chocolate was still solid, even with the reheating. The taste wasn’t bad but it wasn’t distinctive either – this was closer to the prepackaged taste you can get at the store.
This is your basic plain croissant. Again, its a good looking croissant. Much of our supermarket produce also looks perfect…until you take a bite.
The plain tasted fresher than the chocolate, still, I’ll assume it was baked that morning. And despite asking it to be reheated it was still heavy, thick, & bready. Again, it wasn’t bad but the taste wasn’t the freshly made that day taste in contrast to the taste of the prepackaged supermarket variety baked whenever.
I think you know what a croissant looks like from the photos. To get technical, or you have bad eyesight, you could describe it as a yeast leavened bread/dough roll, buttery, typically crescent-moon shaped. I’m not sure where the first croissant originated, but today it is considered a French pastry.
Back to Zeli. Like I said, it’s a coffeehouse – not a bakery. However, if I were Zeli it would make all the sense in the Pasadena world to get their croissants from one of the best bakeries around right here in town – Euro Pane. Or, as that great foodie book, EAT L.A., says is, “the best bakery in the San Gabriel Valley.” In fact, Zeli is located right between the two Euro Pane’s on Colorado Blvd! Pray that Zeli inquires about selling their croissants and anything else.
Ok, so croissants may not be a reason to visit Zeli. But it does have other redeeming qualities: interesting music (for those who don’t mind tunes in the background), conveniently between a bookstore & a theater, the frozen hot chocolate drink, TV, the barista’s are friendly enough, it’s cozy, Free W!F!, Italian sodas, and carrot cake.
I think it was about time I wrote about Zeli, especially since I first visited many years ago. If you’ve ever been to Zeli, or ever visit, lemme know your opinion!
Zeli Coffee Bar @ 695 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena CA 91101
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